Title: Sleeping With Ghosts
Warnings: alluding to rape, mentions of torture and Sam's time in Hell.
Summary: How do you fight something that's only in your brother's head? How do you protect him then?
A/N: This was actually inspired by a friend of mine, (ina_ami's) awesome gif set! The scene where Dean tries to tell Sam that Lucifer isn't real and Sam say's Lucy says the same about Dean...well it got me thinking about how Dean feels so helpless in this plight and how he's out of his element in trying to protect Sam from his own head. SPOILERS for 7x02 and 7x03
"Wait, are you seeing him right now? You know that he's not real right?" -Dean
"He says the same thing about you." -Sam , 7x02 Hello Cruel World
Dean pours himself another shot of whiskey. He's busy sitting at Bobby's desk trying to look up anything to help them with the Leviathans. Despite all the old ancient lore of how powerful they are, there's jack shit about how to kill them. That figures, Dean thinks grumpily, taking a swig of his newly poured whiskey. It burns down his throat and makes him shiver. He figures his gut's full of it by now but at least the whiskey is helping him from losing it completely.
Looking back at the computer with blurry eyes Dean reads on.
The Leviathan of the Middle Ages was used as an image of Satan, endangering both God's creatures—by attempting to eat them—and God's creation—by threatening it with upheaval in the waters of Chaos.
Despite the Satan reference and the small satisfaction that they actually beat Satan himself Dean isn't feeling so hopeful. Lucifer was smart but these Leviathans seem older than even him and they were smart and wise. They weren't going to let a couple of hunters bring them down. Their smartness and tactics rival even Sam's geek brain sometimes.
At the slight mention of Sam, Dean looks up to see Sam's form curled on the too small couch. He looks vulnerable and out of place, nothing like his strong little brother who stabbed Cas in the back. Nothing like his strong brother who took on Satan himself. It scares Dean to think that this may be what takes Sam under. After all the bullshit Sam has had to go through this very well may be the end.
Don't think like that, you idgit, Bobby's stern voice reminds him in his head. Dean doesn't know if it's the alcohol or that he might be going crazy too, but he chuckles. Bobby was right, thinking negatively wouldn't get them anywhere, he just had to ride out the storm and face one task at a time.
Easier said than done.
Suddenly the whiskey doesn't taste that great anymore. Pushing the shot glass away, Dean shuts the computer down and gets up from the old chair.
Popping his sore back, Dean stares at his brother's sleeping form, watching as his stomach gently rises and falls with each breath. He seemes to be sleeping fine at the moment and for that Dean is grateful.
Walking over quietly to the couch Dean bends down and gently reaches out a hand towards Sam's face, brushing his knuckles over Sam's cheek and then running his hand softly through his unruly hair. Sam shuffles a little, but quiets at Dean's soothing voice.
"Shhhh," Dean whispers, calming Sam down immediately. Even after all these years all it takes is a gentle touch or a soft croon of his voice to calm Sam down. It amazes Dean to no end but most of all it makes something warm ignite within his heart. The feeling of being loved and needed never failed to spur him on when he felt like giving up.
Spotting Sam's bandaged hand curled up towards his chest Dean figures he needs to probably check it again.
Reaching out to take the limb, Dean's surprised when Sam moans and shoots up off the couch, knocking Dean on his ass.
"Whoa, whoa, calm down, Sammy," Dean says gently, both hands raised in a placating gesture. "It's just me" Sam's eyes dart around wildly until they focus on Dean, and even then his eyes are glassy and uncomprehending.
"De-Dean...?" Sam stutters. He sounds scared, terrified even, and it makes Dean's resolve that much more steadfast.
"Yeah it's me. Calm down, ok?" Dean calms his own rapid breathing to help Sam slow his down. Within seconds, Sam's frantic intake of breaths decrease until he was breathing normally. "That's it slow your breathing down."
Sam breathes out shakily, reaching up to wipe the sweat from his brow. "Sorry."
"No need to be sorry, ok? Just...I was going to check your hand? Is that ok?"
Sam nods and extends his injured palm, he doesn't say anything else and Dean figures it's best to let Sam be for now. Even if it killed him.
"Alright, let's see here." Unwrapping the bandage carefully Dean winced at how red the stitches were. This is just great Dean thought. The last thing Sam needs right now is an infection.
"How does it look?"
Dean's drawn from his musings at the sound of Sam's voice. He pops his head up and notices that Sam is looking anywhere but at the wound. Dean doesn't blame him.
"Uh...not so good kiddo, it looks like it may be getting infected. I'm going to have to clean it again ok?" Dean hates that upon everything else, he'll have to hurt his brother more. Sam has suffered enough hurt through the years, even hurt from the one person who was supposed to protect him. Despite how little pouring alcohol on a wound may seem, that's unnecessary hurt he'd rather Sam didn't have to face.
"It's ok." Sam says shakily, still trembling a little. Dean figures it must be those visceral nightmares that still take hold even after he's awake.
How do you protect someone from something you can't see?
"Alright, I'll be back with the stuff, ok? Just stay here." Which easily translates to: stay with me, don't let them win.
Sam nods and Dean feels a modicum of relief allowing him to feel better if only for a short bit. "I'll be back." With that Dean walks off towards the bathroom where Bobby keeps the first-aid kit and worries that maybe Sam won't be strong enough to keep them from winning, maybe Lucifer was already in the lead.
Sam's hand trembles and he does his best to keep it steady. The wound is grotesque no doubt he just doesn't have the heart to even look at it. Sweat falls in his face again and he goes to rub it off until he hears that voice.
It's a sing-songed parody that makes Sam shiver with fear. His eyes dart in every direction but he can't see him.
Sam swallows and closes his eyes. Not real. Not real. Not real. He chants in his mind but that doesn't help him from picturing red flames licking at his face, Lucifer's cold smirk as he drives a knife through his heart, laughing as the light wanes from Sam's darkened eyes, or smiling as he violated Sam in the worst wa-
Sam jumps and focuses on Dean's concerned face. He's holding the first-aid kit and a bottle of whiskey. "Sorry." Sam can't help but apologize again, it feels so useless right now. He knows he should be up helping Dean and Bobby research but his energy's been so depleted lately.
"Don't apologize, I was just...never mind." Dean mutters, digging through the kit to avoid the conversation at hand.
Concerned, Sam finishes in his head. He appreciates the gesture but it only serves to make him feel guilty. "Where's Bobby?" He finally asks. He hasn't seen the old man since he went down to go to sleep.
"Out in the panic room. It's the only place where he can think quietly." Dean answers easily. "Let me see your hand."
Sam accepts the answer and gives Dean his injured hand. Dean gently holds his hand, cleaning it with a bit of alcohol that makes Sam wince.
"Sorry." Dean mutters in apology. He then puts more antiseptic cream on it and bandages it back up.
The bite from the alcohol still burns but it's the best it's going to get for now.
"Thanks" Sam whispers, looking into Dean's bright green eyes, trying to convey all that he's feeling; gratitude, warmth, love.
Dean's eyes soften and Sam knows that he gets it, understands. Dean has always understood him.
"You're welcome." Dean doesn't smile often but that small little smile he conveys makes Sam's heart a lot lighter.
"Now go get something to eat and drink, you've been out for about 3 hours." The small moment over, Dean pats Sam on the shoulder and walks back over to Bobby's desk. Sam watches him take a swig of whiskey with a frown and sighs. I have to talk to him about that, he reminds himself.
Dean always had a weird relationship with alcohol but it was nothing to be concerned over. Dean idolized their Dad and after watching their Dad use alcohol for a release, it was fairly obvious where Dean adopted the habit from.
It was nothing that Sam got in a tizzy about. In fact Sam was happy that Dean found a release in something but Sam was afraid Dean was beginning to crack for real this time and Sam didn't know if he was in working order to help.
Sighing Sam gingerly got up off the couch and winced at how sore his muscles were.
"It's from sleeping on that small couch, Sasquatch."
Sam glares at Dean's sarcastic comment, grumbling, "Shut up," as he walks in to the kitchen, ignoring Dean snickering behind him.
Opening up the fridge Sam spies a few water bottle and takes one out. He doesn't want to chance eating something in fear that he might throw it back up. Opening up the bottle he took one large gulp and sighed in contentment. It was sealed and bought before the whole Leviathan fiasco, so he was safe in that aspect.
"Do you remember what happened last time you drank water?"
Sam jumps, dropping the water bottle he was holding. It lands on the floor with a thud, water spilling out over the old linoleum floor. Twisting around, Sam spots Lucifer leaning against the fridge, looking at him with contempt.
"What? Are you surprised, Sammy? I said I wouldn't leave and I meant it." Lucifer says with a wink.
Sam swallows, backing up until he hits something. He yelps and turns around only to find Dean standing there.
"Sammy..." Dean says slowly, unsure, "you ok?"
Sam swallows and tries to get his trembling to a minimum. "Yeah...yeah, I'm fine." One quick look back showed that Lucifer was gone.
"Are you sure? You uh, dropped your water." Dean points to the fallen water bottle causing Sam to blush.
"Yeah...um, I'm just clumsy." Sam says, scratching his hair and laughing, a nervous habit he still has.
"Alright, um, I'll be researching if you need me and Bobby's down in the panic room, ok?"
Sam nods and watches Dean walk away. Walking back to the counter to grab paper towels to mop up the mess he's made, Sam worries whether he'll even be able to ask for help.
Dean listens with a heavy heart as Sam pounds up the stairs again.
He could tell a lot by the way Sam walked, the sounds he made when he did. Sam's foot steps are heavy, boggled down with so much anxiety and fear. It makes Dean's heart ache. He wants to help so badly, but how do you fight something that isn't even real? Dean has faced all sorts of ghosts, witches, vampires, werewolves, and fugly creatures that some people can't even dream about, but this was proving to be his greatest challenge yet.
Dean massages his pounding head and pours himself another drink.
"Don't you think you've had enough boy?"
Dean jumps and turns to look at Bobby who looks highly peeved. He can't help the guilty look on his face.
"Sorry I just need to clear my mind." Dean apologizes, taking a quick swig before Bobby replies.
"Boy," Bobby sighs, walking over to the couch to sit down. He looks weary and worn down, causing Dean to wonder how much sleep he had gotten last night - not to say that his sleep was any better.
"I know, I know...it's just helping me deal right now, ok?"
"I understand, boy, I do but this isn't the way to deal with stuff. I mean your Daddy..." Bobby starts to say, but Dean stops him before he can even get it out.
"Don't even say it." Dean growls dangerously, his grip on the shot glass tightening.
"Ok, boy, I'm sorry it's ju-"
Before Bobby can finish, however, he's interrupted by a loud thump from upstairs.
"Sam?" Bobby asks, looking at Dean worriedly.
"He might be having another nightmare." Dean curses and gets up from the desk, rushing upstairs and opening their shared bedroom door. It isn't dark yet, so the light coming from the window illuminates Sam's body.
True to Dean's word, Sam is thrashing about on his small bed, hitting the headboard with his limbs.
"Hey, Sammy!" Dean shouts, running over towards his brother's struggling form. "Sammy?"Dean palms Sam's sweaty forehead and frowns at the heat he feels. "You're burning up." Dean notes.
Sam whimpered again and jerks away at the touch. "No...please, no!"
Dean's heart shatters at the realization that Sam's dreaming about Hell again. Dean could handle the nightmares about Jessica or their Mom dying, he could handle the nightmares about their Dad and the nightmares about the apocalypse and even his death. Those he could manage, but how could he handle memories about this? He knew Hell, he knew what went on down there but this was new territory.
Sam hadn't been in Hell, he had been in the pit with two highly pissed off angels that had taken all their energy and rage out on Sam. He wondered often enough what happened to Adam. Was Adam still down there? Was he getting tortured? Then he soon realized that when Sam was down there, he wouldn't have let them hurt Adam, he would have shielded him the best he could, but what now? Now that Sam was topside, what was happening to Adam?
Dean couldn't even think about it. Trying to fix one brother was enough work as it is. He wasn't a miracle worker.
"Does he have a fever?"
Dean jumps at the sound of Bobby's voice. He hadn't even realize he had followed him up here but then he felt like hitting himself over the head. Of course he did, you dumbass.
"Yeah...I checked his cut earlier today and it was inflamed and pink. Maybe it's infected?" Dean suggests while trying to soothe Sam's terror. He cards his fingers through Sam's sweat dampened hair and shushes him gently when he starts to get worked up.
"It may be... Damn, that's the last thing we need right now." Bobby says sadly and Dean nods in agreement.
"I have an I.V around here somewhere, the best thing for him right now is some antibiotics, but we can't risk taking him to the hospital. So I'll call a friend who lives close by, he stores stuff like this all the time, I'll see if he'll give me some." Bobby says, scratching at his beard.
"Can you hold the fort down till then?
"Of course." Dean replies easily, not taking his eyes off Sam.
"Alright, I'll be back in a few, try to keep him cooled down." Bobby advises in a fatherly tone and walk out after patting Dean on the shoulder.
Dean's annoyed that Bobby thinks he can't handle Sam, but he figures Bobby is as freaked out as Dean is, and the man deserves a break.
Sam cries out in terror as his eyes dart back and forth. Dean wants nothing more than to venture inside Sam's head and fight the monsters that lurk there, but sadly Sam was stuck on his own until he came out of his terror. That thought saddened him the most.
"You can beat this Sammy, ok? You're strong, little brother, believe me when I say it. If someone could beat this, it'd be you." Dean encourages gently. taking Sam's injured limb and beginning to unwrap it.
The skin was now red in color, yellow puss oozing out of the stitches. At this rate he would have to take the stitches out and clean the wound. Just more added pain, Dean thought sadly.
"Damn it." He mutters. Looking around Dean realizes he's going to have to get some supplies from down stairs, but that meant leaving Sam, but he has too if he's going to get Sam better.
"Sammy, I have to get some things, ok?" Sam doesnt respond, except for trembling in his sleep. "I'll be back kiddo, just hold on for me, ok? Don't leave me." Dean whispers the last part brokenly.
Squeezing Sam's bicep, he gets up slowly and with one last look at his brother, he darts out and hurries to get the supplies.
It was dark.
That was the only thing that was registering in Sam's mind. It was the only thing he was letting register, because if he thought about it more... then, well... he couldn't handle it.
The dark was only lit up by brief flashes of red, illuminating the area around him.
The area was dry, dusty and hot. He was sweating furiously in his position on the rack.
The rack was metal and burned his skin when it got to hot, Sam would cry out periodically and try to lift himself from the scorching metal but the chains held him thoroughly in place.
Like always he was naked. 'More room to hurt you, my dear.' Lucifer would always say but Sam knew the real reason. He knew why every minute of every hour of every day he was naked.
It made him shiver in fear, his eyes darted nervously to the side for sight of Lucifer but he was no where to be found. Sam should consider this a reprieve but he knew better. Lucifer liked playing games more than anything.
So Sam waited and watched the dark area in anticipation of what was to come because really, that's all he could do.
"Shhhh, calm down, Sammy. I'm right here." Dean whispers again for the thousandth time today.
After Bobby came back with some antibiotics they easily set up the I.V and wait for it to do its magic.
Of course it was a long wait. Dean had to sit through sweat, tears, and the worst: pleas for help. Sam would cry out, unaware, and beg for Dean's help, and all Dean could do was sit there and beg in return for Sam to snap out of it, come back to him.
He re-dips the washcloth in cool liquid and tries his best to cool Sam down with it, wiping his feverish brow and face, then moving towards his neck.
Sam sighs at the touch and Dean hopes that maybe this is a good sign.
"Well his fever is down, now all we have to do is wait." Bobby comments after checking Sam's fever.
Dean nods and begins the process again; ring out, dip, wipe. Ring out, dip, wipe.
Dean only hoped that soon the fever would break and Sam would return to the real world. He didn't think he'd be able to take it if Sam didn't.
"Sammy, Sammy, Sammy look at you? Why do you always tense up like that when you know what's coming?" Lucifer crooned evilly as he grunted.
Sam closed his eyes and muttered to himself over and over that it wasn't real, that Dean got him out, that these were just memories, but God, it felt so real. It felt like it always did, painful and obtrusive.
He didn't want to think about what was happening. He didn't want to even mention it, he just let it happen in hopes that soon his memory would fade away.
It's not real. It's not real. It's not real.
"Sammy?" Dean questions hopefully. After having to listen to Sam chant it wasn't real for about an hour Dean thought he would go berserk but it was Bobby who calmed him down and got him to chill out.
Now about three hours after giving Sam the antibiotic it seems he's finally coming out of his fever induced hell.
Sam's brows scrunch together and his eyelids flutter. Dean waits with baited breath until Sam's eyes finally blink open and those vivid hazel eyes shine brightly with confusion.
"Hey, Sammy... glad you could join us." Dean retorts with a smile.
Sam has a confused look on his face but Dean shushes him before he can even ask.
"You've been a little sick, ok? You need to get some rest, so just go back to sleep and when you wake up I'll fill you in, dude."
Sam nods and drifts off back to sleep but not without asking one thing: "U'g'tme'ot?"
Sam's words are jumbled but Dean understands. "Yeah, Sammy, I got you out."
Sam nods, sure that all these memories weren't real and goes to sleep with that in mind.
Dean scrubs his hand over his face and blinks away the tears that threaten to fall.
Sam may not be ok, hell, Sam wasn't ok by any standards, but he was fighting and despite all the memories and hallucinations at least Sam knew the one thing that rang true: Dean got him out and he could always rely on Dean to remind him of that fact.
All Sam had to do was keep fighting 'cause as long as Sam did, Dean would fight by his side.
So I hoped you liked this! It totally juat hit me and I had to write it. And I hope that implication was too dark and resonable within the lines of cannon that we have seen. Once again review! I'd love to hear what you guys think! ~Charity